The following is an unofficial translation of an appeal made Thursday by 39 members of the Japan Forum on International Relations. Related news story

(1) The Iraq and North Korea crises are linked.

As the time for a possible U.S. attack on Iraq draws near, North Korea is stepping up moves to arm itself with nuclear weapons. Therefore, we must consider carefully what action will best serve Japan’s interests and, more generally, what course the international community should take. We support the United States’ position and action concerning the Iraq problem, and we insist on strengthening cooperation between Japan and the U.S. in dealing with the North Korea problem. Since these two crises are linked, Japan’s ability to resolve the crisis created by North Korea will depend on how Japan responds to the Iraq crisis.

(2) Possession of weapons of mass destruction, or WMDs, by “rogue states” cannot be condoned.

We would like to make clear our basic position that we cannot condone development and deployment of WMDs by the so-called rogue states. The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks underscored the threat of international terrorism. If WMDs fell into the possession of international terrorists, the threat would increase immeasurably. The international community must acknowledge the permitted use of military force as a last resort when the threat cannot be removed through peaceful means.

Those who merely shout antiwar slogans, or take a neutral stand by denouncing both Iraq’s noncompliance and U.S. preparations to use force, would appear to have abandoned independent thinking. They are confusing a police nightstick with a lethal weapon.

In 1998, Iraq rejected WMD inspections authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, which ended the Persian Gulf War. Resolution 1441, adopted in November, gave Iraq a “last chance” for compliance. Iraq is required to prove its compliance, but is far from having done so.

(3) Clear-cut support should be given to the U.S.

We declare our unswerving confidence in the Japan-U.S. alliance. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the participation by Central and Eastern European countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the threat to Germany and France from the east has almost disappeared. It can be said that freedom of action for both countries has expanded to the extent that the threat from the east has declined.

In contrast, North Korea’s moves to go nuclear are heightening regional tension in Northeast Asia. If the international community fails to disarm Iraq, North Korea will further escalate its nuclear development program. It is inevitable that the emergence of a nuclear-armed nation on the Korean Peninsula would threaten Japan’s security and restrain Japanese diplomacy.

Some Japanese insist that Japan should exercise “autonomy” in its diplomacy by keeping a distance from the U.S., as Germany and France are doing. But there is a big difference between the circumstances involving Germany and France and the situation in which Japan finds itself. At this time, the Japan-U.S. alliance is being tested; this is all the more reason for Japan to decide to give clear-cut support to the U.S. It would be both illogical and inequitable for Japan to demand tough U.S. action in the North Korea crisis while opposing the use of force against Iraq.

Given the deteriorating world situation, we, the 39 members of the Japan Forum on International Relations who have signed herein, express our views and appeal to the Japanese people.

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